Thursday, May 6, 2010


On May 6, 1682, King Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles.  Walter Scott visited Versailles in 1815.  Some of Scott's observations, and a bit of a Scottish song Scott remembered were recorded by John Scott, who traveled to Belgium and France with Walter, Alexander Pringle, and Robert Bruce.  John Scott's "Journal of a tour to Waterloo and Paris in company with Sir Walter Scott"  was published in 1842.  An excerpt:

"...The fineness of the day, and the beauty of our drive, however, restored our equanimity. We passed through Marli* and St. Germain, where we paused to look at the palace. I was aware that we should pass this ancient abode of the house of Stuart, and was of course anxious to hear what the supposed author of Waverley might say on the occasion. He did not entirely pass over the subject, and mentioned one or two well-known anecdotes respecting the family. The topic, however, was evidently one to which he was unwilling to refer, and I therefore forbore to press it so much as I confess I felt inclined to do.

We admired the extensive view from the terrace ; and could not help wondering at the preference given by Louis XIV. to the comparatively dull situation of Versailles—" the favourite without merit," as it was called by the wits of the court.

* Scott's additional words to the song,

" Bannocks of beer meal,
Bannocks of barley;
Here's to the lads
That eat bannocks of barley;"

may be recollected by his friends ; I know not if they were ever published.

" Who is't keeps guard
At Versailles and at Marli?
Who but the lads
That eat bannocks of barley?"...

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